Three Ways to Remove Window Tint
There are plenty of good reasons to install window tint, such as privacy, daytime visibility, and ultraviolet protection. At the same time, there are at least a few good reasons to remove window tint, such as if it exceeds the law, you don’t like the color, or it has started to bubble or fade.
Even if the film has been there a long time, years or over a decade, there are at least three ways to remove window tint without ruining your windows. Here they are, in order of difficulty, more or less.
Thermal—Expensive, but Clean
By far, the easiest way to remove window tint is to use heat, specifically via a steam cleaner. Hot steam will soften the adhesive, allowing the window tint to separate from the glass. The only drawback is the need to acquire a clothing steamer, which may or may not be useful in the rest of your life – it’s great for last-minute touchups on your Sunday best, club swag, or disinfecting the cat box.
- Obtain a clothing steamer, long extension cord, and a couple gallons of distilled water—some steamers may specify salt for maximum efficiency. Handheld steamers are cheaper, but the ones with the hose attachment make it easier to reach into the cramped areas of a rear sedan window.
- Protect the interior of your car with a plastic tarp or garbage bag and an old towel.
- Work the steam over the entire window, not just one spot, to heat up the window tint and soften the adhesive. Take care not to burn yourself with the hot steam.
- Use your fingernail or utility knife to pick at the edge of the tint.
- While continually applying steam to the exposed window and window tint, peel off the window film. You might need a razor scraper or plastic scraper to help, but adding more steam is usually enough.
A Couple of Notes
Never use a razor scraper on a rear window defroster grid or antenna grid. The razer will literally cut off the grid, and you’ll be left with no defroster or no radio reception. Instead, use a plastic scraper in these areas.
Depending on the situation, you may have to try out all three methods, or even combine them, to figure out what works best for your vehicle.
Once the window tint is removed, some original adhesive may remain. Use new #0000 steel wool—rub lightly!—in warm soapy solution to remove it. Dish detergent or liquid car wash are both good ideas for this part of the project.
Finally, clean the glass with the glass cleaner of your choice and a microfiber cloth.
In the end, once you’ve removed the old window tint and cleaned the glass to clear and streak-free, you can enjoy clear vision again, or consider installing new window tint to your liking.